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Family awarded $12 million after botched surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center

Up to 10% of the child's body was burned during a surgical fire at Madigan Army Medical Center. His family has been awarded $12 million in damages.

A U.S. District judge has awarded a family $12 million after a botched surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center that left a toddler disfigured and deformed.

On Tuesday, Judge Ronald B. Leighton awarded $9 million to the 4-year-old and $1.5 million to each his parents Tyler and Armani Porter.

The case stems from a surgical fire during an operation on September 2, 2015. The then 13-month-old had undergone surgery to remove a benign cyst above his left eye.

According to court documents, the anesthesiologist and pediatric surgeon didn’t communicate about the planned method of administering anesthesia or how the surgeon would perform the surgery and which devices he would use.

If the anesthesiologist had known the surgeon was using an electrocautery device during the surgery instead of a scalpel, he would have given the patient concentrated oxygen at a lower level, according to court documents. That’s because an electrocautery device is an ignition source for fire, and an oxygen-rich rich environment increases the likelihood of fire.

When the device was activated five minutes into surgery, a fireball ignited, burning up to 10% of the child's body.

Credit: Courtesy of Porter family
In 2015, the child suffered burns on up to 10% of his body after a surgical fire broke out while he was having an operation.

He was moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he recovered for three weeks before returning home. By the end of October, his wounds had closed, but he was left with significant scarring and disfigurement on his face, according to court documents.

In the following months he underwent four other surgeries for injuries related to the fire and will likely continue to suffer from permanent physical disfigurements and deformities, according to the court.

The court found the health care providers “failed to exercise the degree of care, skill, and learning expected” and that the fire was preventable.

Editor's Note: At the request of his family, the minor's name has been removed from this story. 

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